Nancy Armstrong

Nancy Armstrong

Gilbert, Louis, and Edward Lehrman Professor of English in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

External address: 
304C Allen Bldg, English Dept., Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Box 90015, Durham, NC 27708-0015
(919) 668-0314
Office Hours: 
By appointment


Nancy Armstrong has served as editor of the journal Novel: A Forum on Fiction since 1996 and serves as co-organizer of The Novel Project at Duke, a faculty research seminar. Her scholarship explains how novels imagine a world that can be inhabited (or not) in specific ways by historically and culturally variable readerships. Currently focused on the contemporary novel, she continues to address questions of how modern cultures imagine themselves as a political society: Have, do, or can novels imagine alternative social formations?  What narrative mechanisms make it possible for them to do so?  How do novels presume to change their readers in the process?  How do these "arguments" against the status quo engage political theories that attempt the same feat? Can any such alternative leave the formation we call "the family" intact?

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin at Madison 1977

  • B.A., State University of New York at Buffalo 1966

  • Undergraduate, Biology, Wellesley College 1956 - 1958

Armstrong, N, and Tennenhouse, L. Novels in the Time of Democratic Writing (Accepted). Haney Foundation, December 26, 2017.

The Violence of Representation (Routledge Revivals): Literature and the History of Violence. Ed. N Armstrong and L Tennenhouse. December 2, 2013. (Edited Book)

Theories of the Novel Now, I, II, III. Ed. N Armstrong. 2011. (Edited Book)

The Future of the Human. Ed. N Armstrong and W Montag. 2009. (Edited Book)

The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. Ed. DS Kastan and N Armstrong. Oxford University Press, 2006. (Edited Book)

Armstrong, N. How Novels Think: The Limits of Individualism 1719-1900. Columbia University Press, 2005.

Armstrong, N. Fiction in the Age of Photography: The Legacy of British Realism. Harvard University Press, 1999.

Armstrong, N, and Tennenhouse, L. The Imaginary Puritan: Literature, Intellectual Labor, and the Origins of Personal Life. University of California Press, 1992.

Deseo y ficción doméstica: Una Historia Política De La Novela. Trans. N Armstrong. Universitat de València, January 1991.


Armstrong, N, and Tennenhouse, L. "Balibar and the Citizen Subject." Just Like a Woman: Balibar on the Politics of Reproduction. Ed. W Montag and H Elsayed. Edinburgh University Press, 2017. 284-308. (Chapter)

Armstrong, N, and Tennenhouse, L. "How to Imagine Community Without Property." de Homenagem a Maria Irene Ramalho Santos: American Literature In a Comparative Context. Impressa da Universidade de Comimbra, 2016. (Chapter)

Armstrong, N. "A Gothic History of the British Novel." New Directions in the History of the Novel. Ed. P Parrinder. Palgrave, February 1, 2014. 103-120. (Chapter) Full Text

Tennenhouse, , and Armstrong, N. "The Network Novel and How It Unsettled the Domestic Fiction." Ed. S Arata, J Wicke, and J Hunter. Blackwell’s, 2014. 103-120.

Armstrong, N. "On Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man, 24 February 1871." BRANCH: Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History. Ed. D Felluga. 2013. (Chapter)

Armstrong, N. "The Other Side of Modern Individualism: Locke and Defoe." Individualism: The Cultural Logic of Modernity. Ed. Z Meer. Lexington Books, 2011. 111-120. (Chapter)

Armstrong, N. "The Sensation Novel." The Oxford History of the Novel in English Volume 3: The Nineteenth-Century Novel 1820-1880. Ed. J Kucich and JB Taylor. Oxford University Press, 2011. 137-153. (Chapter)

Armstrong, N. "When Sexuality Meets Gender in the Victorian Novel." The Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel. Ed. D David. Cambridge University Press, 2010. 97-124. (Chapter)

Armstrong, N. "Afterword." Modernist Star Maps. Ed. J Goldman and A Jaffe. Ashgate, 2010. 237-244. (Afterword)

"When gender meets sexuality in the Victorian novel." The Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel. January 1, 2009. 170-192. Full Text


Armstrong, N. "Why Looking Backward Is Necessary to Looking Forward." Victorian Literature and Culture 47.1 (March 1, 2019): 123-135. Full Text

Armstrong, N. "Afterword: Waiting for Foucault." Modern Language Quarterly 80.1 (January 1, 2019): 37-49. (Review) Full Text

Armstrong, N. "Looking Backward: the Victorian Origins of the Neoliberal Household." Victorian Literature and Culture (2019): 123-123.

Armstrong, N. "The Contemporary Disposition of the Novel(In preparation)." Continental Thought and Theory 2.1 (2019): 3-3.

Armstrong, N. "Waiting for F(In preparation)." Mlq Special Issue , Desire and Domestic Fiction after Thiry Years (2019).

Marx, J, and Armstrong, N. "Introduction: How do novels think about neoliberalism?." Novel 51.2 (August 1, 2018): 157-165. Full Text

Armstrong, N. "Disavowal and domestic fiction: The problem of social reproduction." Differences 29.1 (January 1, 2018): 1-32. Full Text

Armstrong, N. "What use is Althusser?(In preparation)." Cultural Critique Special issue commermorating 1968 (2018).

Armstrong, N, and Marx, J. "How do Novels Think About Neo-liberalism?." Novel: a Forum on Fiction 52.2 (2018): 157-168.

Armstrong, N, and Montag, W. "Are novels literature?." Novel 50.3 (November 1, 2017): 338-350. (Review) Full Text


Armstrong, N. "Desire and Domestic Fiction after Thirty Years." Special Session of the Modern Language Association. 2018..

Armstrong, N. "Contemporary: A Concept Seminar." Society for Novel Studies. June 2018. Cornell University..

Armstrong, N. "The Future of Journal Publishing." Special Session of the Modern Language Association. January 2018..